Recycling – proximity motivates people

I parked my bike on the rack outside of the door to the post office and stepped inside to check my box.  This whole P.O. Box idea was new to me. I opened the box and removed its contents. I noticed some junk mail. As I exited the building, I instinctively went to recycle, but there was no bin — only a fifty-gallon Rubbermaid trash stood by the door.

In the trashcan, there were loads of recyclable pieces of mail, especially around election time with fliers that read: “Vote for Gail Schwartz” or “Elect Reeves for County Commissioner.”

If there is a need for a recycling bin why isn’t there one? Is it the cost or the ability to get recyclables picked up or security? Do other post offices have recycling bins?

I tried to make excuses for the Post Office, because I assumed that in our Green Age it wouldn’t be a question to have such services available. If it is a security issue, people can just as easily take mail out of the trash as they could out of a recycling bin.

So, rather than continue to make conjectures, I decided to ask. Here’s what I found out: there really isn’t a good reason for the post office to not have customer recycling bins; our post office has looked into getting the kind with snorkels so people can’t access the materials inside of them; and “behind the scenes” in the sorting room, they recycle.

The reason I am curious about this issue is that I understand proximity motivates people. If there is a recycling bin near a trash receptacle, they will recycle instead. But if it is not convenient, then the recycling ends up in the trash. People often do not want to go out of the way. The best remedy for this is to provide recycling next to the trash.

Many people are not going to bring their junk mail home to be recycled. It isn’t convenient, and therefore, it wouldn’t happen as easily. Honestly, I just threw my lone piece of mail into the trash and I have a tendency to recycle everything.

Research has been conducted that proves if a recycling bin is close to where a person wants to recycle then the percentage of recycling increases. For instance, a study was administered in an office where they put recycling bins at each desk. As a result, the recycling  of materials  was at 85-94%.

In addition, I have witnessed a study at the University of Wyoming where students stood at basketball games next to exits holding bags for fans to place plastic water bottles for recycling. With both the education and the ease, the percent of plastic saved from the landfill was tremendous.

Salida’s community does not necessarily need to be educated about recycling, but rather just needs a reminder by having access to it. The primary source of trash at the post office, I would believe, is some sort of paper product. If we were to have bins at the post office (and other places we currently don’t), I believe it would have an increase in the amount we recycle.

The Citizen is happy to provide a forum for comments and discussion. Please be civil, truthful, and relevant. Please suggest removal of comments that violate these standards. Real names are appreciated.

One Response to “Recycling – proximity motivates people”

  1. Merrell

    Agreed! We now recycle most of our junk mail by shredding it at home and then taking it to the Pool recycling but what a pain.

    Did the Postamster herre give any more definitive answer? Is it in the budget for them and when? Or should we hold a bake sale to help them if money is the issue? (Just kidding).

    The PO gets paid for delivering so they should not care if it gets shredded after delivery and recycled. Might be a big PR boost to a beleagured organization and help them reduce their costs of disposal while benefiting local recyclers who could put it to good use.

    Like (0)